Protip: Make Sure Your Facebook Photos Don't Contradict Your Statements In Court...

from the just-saying dept

In my long-running series of litigants saying one thing in court and another when talking to their friends online, consider this from a worker's comp case after a refrigerator fell on Clement:
The first issue Clement raises in his brief is whether pictures of him that appeared on Facebook and MySpace should have been admitted into evidence. He complains that the pictures “are a disgrace to the dignity of the workers' compensation proceedings and the legal system” and have nothing to do with his medical treatment....
We find no abuse of discretion in the allowance of the photographs. Clement contended that he was in excruciating pain, but these pictures show him drinking and partying. Certainly these pictures could have a bearing on Clement's credibility, albeit a negative effect that Clement might not wish to be demonstrated to the ALJ or the Commission. We hold that there was not an abuse of discretion in allowing the photographs.

Now that Facebook can do facial recognition, it should next develop a tool to detect photos depicting alcoholic drinks and give users a way to automatically opt-out of those photos!

Prior blog posts in this series:

* YouTube Video Impeaches Witness' Credibility--Ensign Yacht v. Arrigoni
* Facebook Entries Negate Car Crash Victims' Physical Injury Claims
* Contrary MySpace Evidence Strikes a Litigant Again--HAC, Inc. v. Box
* MySpace Postings Foil Another Litigant--Sedie v. U.S.
* Disturbingly Humorous MySpace Posts Used as Impeaching Evidence in Spousal Abuse Case--Embry v. State
* Latest Example of Social Networking Site Evidence Contradicting In-Court Testimony--People v. Franco



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    KingFisher, Jan 24th, 2012 @ 8:16pm

    It's all about when the fridge fell on him and when the pictures of him partying were posted. From what I read he was trying to get additional compensation after a few years so its rather iffy this case.

     

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    Aerilus, Jan 24th, 2012 @ 8:54pm

    wouldn't it be a fairly good argument that after a few shots the pain went away?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2012 @ 9:25pm

    Perhaps the drinks were stored in the fridge in question, resulting in a forced consumption to relieve the weight of the fallen object on said claimants body resulting in an cause of accept drunkin demeanor.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2012 @ 9:45pm

     

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    Pixelation, Jan 24th, 2012 @ 10:33pm

    Jerkwads

    Ok, so I'm in pain. Let's see, stay home and feel bad or go out with friends and try to enjoy myself?

    Thanks for fucking that one up Facebook. Jerkwads.

     

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    anonymous, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 1:23am

    i shouldn't worry too much. if Mega loses it's case, other sites that people are able to use to exchange files will also be shut by the entertainment industries and their quest for control of the Internet. Facebook and similar sites will be on the hit list, without doubt!

     

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      Stuart, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 8:11am

      Re:

      You must not be thinking yet. Please consume more coffee.
      We all know that the US Government LOVES Facebook.
      Facebook + Stupid Cow People = Information and control.

       

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    Rekrul, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 1:25am

    I have an iron-clad method of making sure that entries on social networking sites don't come back to haunt me; I don't use them.

     

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    tc, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 5:38am

    Too easy to abuse

    I'm a bit disturbed by this, unless he made the claim that he was unable to stand, walk or leave the house, I don't see what pictures of him drinking at a party prove.

    Unless he was lifting the keg??

    I mean, if he can't do any strenuous physical work and a doctor backs him up, admitting those pictures is a dick move that proves nothing and serves only to influence a judge through innuendo rather than actual evidence.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 9:06am

      Re: Too easy to abuse

      Also, depends on when the pics were taken.

      For example, if I were to be laid up in bed, for whatever reason, but I was capable of moving one arm to use a computer, I would probably spend the time updating my social network, making WoW videos, etc.

      Since I didn't RTFA, if the pics were taken prior to the injury, and he used the time off to upload the pics, then I don't see how they could be used.

      Plus, they aren't counting the fact that sometimes you can feel well enough to be at work, and the DR won't release you yet. They do this as a means to not get a malpractice suit against them....and you can get in trouble if you do go to work.

      I remember a friend that had gotten in a bike wreck that did get taken to a party by his friends. He was bruised up, arm in a cast, sitting on the couch being fed drinks. He was in no way, shape or form, able to go to work, if anything because of the pain medication.....(why my dumb friends fed him alcohol, I'll never know....I wasn't there..he's lucky he didn't have a reaction...)

      I remember after my hysterectomy that I forced myself to go to my kids school event. I made it a whole 30 min, before I had to be carried out to the car, because I was in so much pain and the stiches started bleeding.

      However, if someone would have snapped a pic of the whole classroom with me there, I'm sure it would have looked bad to others. I ended up having to go back to the DR the next day, because I had no business being out and about. My kids were 4 and 5, and they were so excited about this event, I had to go.

      There is a fine line between being capable of doing some tasks, and putting in a full 8 hrs at work.

      2 weeks after getting home from the hospital after an aortic aneurysm, my mom was up trying to do laundry. We immediately grabbed her and stuffed her back into bed. Where is that fine line between "you need to get up and about to get back to health vs omg you are jimmying the system"?

       

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    Shawn (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 5:57am

    Make sure to read the article... not often do you see the phrase "He saw no benefit in exploration of the scrotum five months out from surgery. " in a techdirt link ;-)

     

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    nasch (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 7:23am

    Don't lie

    Another option is not to lie in court. Bizarre concept, I know.

     

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    Cowardly Anon, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 10:36am

    I don't agree with this at all. My mother has chronic pain in her hands. She has nerve damage and is documented as being 8% disabled in her right hand and 6% disabled in her left.

    When the pain started getting bad, she took a pain management workshop and was given the advice that she shouldn't stop doing things she loves b/c she's in pain. She'll be in pain either way, so she might as well do things she likes so that she'll have some joy in life. Good advice if you ask me.

    This case is basically saying the opposite of that. If you are in pain, do not go out and enjoy yourself b/c then people will think you're not in pain and you can lose your compensation. Why should someone wallow in pain that leads to depression only b/c if heaven forbid they go out and enjoy themselves someone might post a picture on Facebook and it could come back and bite them later.

    I feel that's unacceptable. People who live in pain every day need to come to terms with it and move past it. Doing nothing doesn't make the pain go away, but it can make you depressed.

     

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      nasch (profile), Jan 25th, 2012 @ 2:02pm

      Re:

      When the pain started getting bad, she took a pain management workshop and was given the advice that she shouldn't stop doing things she loves b/c she's in pain. She'll be in pain either way, so she might as well do things she likes so that she'll have some joy in life.

      I don't think your example is relevant. She's not claiming she's too sick to work and then going to a party, she's told to keep living her life as close to normal as she can. Which would presumably include working. It's just not the same situation.

       

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    Jason the Saj, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 11:46am

    He just needs a better lawyer...

    Could you repeat what you just said?

    "these pictures show him drinking and partying"

    Exactly, this just further proves my client's case that he is unable to have enjoyment in most situations. And requires continual medication to alleviate and dampen the constant pain. Be that medication prescription, or alcohol, a chemical known to the medical community to function as a pain inhibitor.

     

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    Shane Nipper, May 2nd, 2012 @ 7:34am

    I agree with Rekrul: may be it's really better to get rid of too much private info on FB and not to use them at all.
    On the whole people are too obsessive about the social nets. That disturbs me.

     

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